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Lubricating stem/handlebars etc...

Schoie81Schoie81 Posts: 749
edited July 2014 in Workshop
Hi guys,

I try to keep on top of cleaning and lubing the chain and gears etc... but not sure if, what and how often I should be lubricating anything on the steering end. The thing that's prompted this question is I've developed a creak (well, the bike has, I've been creaking for years...) when pedalling hard up hills and I'm pulling up a bit on the handlebars. After a few weeks of trying to figure out where this is coming from, I'm now pretty certain its coming from the stem or the headset/head tube area. I've checked everything is as tight as it should be but no relief from the noise. I was tempted to slap some grease/oil on it in case it's just gone dry and that's where the noise is coming from. Before I do that though, figured I'd be wise to check what I should be lubricating and if that's likely to be causing the noise?

Any advice greatly appreciated - the noise is driving me slowly insane!!
"I look pretty young, but I'm just back-dated"

Posts

  • Schoie81Schoie81 Posts: 749
    oh....if it makes a difference - its an alloy frame and forks - no carbon....
    "I look pretty young, but I'm just back-dated"
  • Old_TimerOld_Timer Posts: 262
    Clean the stem and steerer tube well, then apply an assembly lube or even some quality waterproof grease will help. Reassemble everything and use the correct torque values so things are properly held in, and not over tightened. While you have the stem and such out it would be a good time to inspect the headset bearings and clean/lubricate them, too.

    Chasing creaks and pops can be frustrating, take the time to carefully identify where the noise is coming from. I've had a popping noise that I swore was the dreaded BB30 bottom bracket noise, turned out to be the new seat pillar I'd installed without applying assembly lubricant first.

    The top posting in this forum is specifically for noises that crop up and the ways of finding and fixing them, its a pretty thorough read and handy for chasing them down.
    Lets just got for a ride, the heck with all this stuff...
  • Schoie81Schoie81 Posts: 749
    Thanks old timer, got to ride home on it tonight and then I'll have a look. I did start reading through the top post but on the first 3 or 4 pages nothing struck a chord with what I'm looking at and as I figured the advice on lubricating would be helpful anyway, I thought I'd post a new topic.

    For the first few weeks I had put this down to a noise coming from the cranks, but found it difficult to locate as it doesn't happen when you don't pedal and its hard to trace the noise when riding. However, I discovered last week that whilst it coincides with the turns of the pedals, its actually the force i'm putting on the bars when pedalling that causes it and not turning the pedals - finally figured out by free-wheeling and pulling up and down on the bars. Once I'd discovered that, I can now recreate it without being on the bike so its definitely not the cranks or the saddle/seat post. Took the front wheel off and it still does it without that, so that's that ruled out. Just taken the bars off the stem and the noise persists so it isn't that 'joint' which to me only leaves the headtube/headset. I did remove the stem and the spacers and couldn't really hear the noise then, but without the stem on its hard to recreate the movement that causes the noise so not sure if that points to it being the stem or not.

    Will have a look tonight anyway and see what happens on the ride tomorrow morning! Fingers crossed!
    "I look pretty young, but I'm just back-dated"
  • xdocxdoc Posts: 331
    There should be no grease/lube any where around the bars/stem/forks except in the headset bearings.
  • Old_TimerOld_Timer Posts: 262
    xdoc wrote:
    There should be no grease/lube any where around the bars/stem/forks except in the headset bearings.

    Check the various manuals out, an assembly lube, or paste, especially on Carbon Fiber parts, is necessary, and a light application of lube or anti-sieze can keep things tight and help to avoid slippage. If you have a carbon fiber steerer tube it should get some CF paste applied to it where it meets the stem, whether the stem is aluminum or CF. When you have CF to CF connection the paste gives a seal to grip that most CF cannot achieve.
    Lets just got for a ride, the heck with all this stuff...
  • Schoie81Schoie81 Posts: 749
    Fork out and back in lass night, cleaned and greased - it was obvious when I took it apart that most of the steerer tube had never seen any grease, so I only put grease on the bearings anyway....

    Varying off the topic slightly, I now know a little more about headset bearings than I did 24hours ago, and so can Identify my headset bearings as open/cage type bearings. I've read that these are 'budget' bearings with cartridge bearings being a better option - not really a surprise as I have an entry level bike. Anyway, can I replace them with cartridge bearings or does the headset dictate the type of bearings and changing the bearing type would mean a new headset too??
    "I look pretty young, but I'm just back-dated"
  • bobloboblo Posts: 360
    I was in the same situation a year or so ago. I was convinced the BB was creaking and lubed it, tightened it, PTFE'd it etc. I proved the issue by squirting a small amount of GT85 around the stem/bar interface - no more creaks. I fixed it for good with a little copperease on the inside of the stem plate etc. Just go steady, you're not lubing up for a porno film :-)
  • lesfirthlesfirth Posts: 1,013
    Old_Timer wrote:
    xdoc wrote:
    There should be no grease/lube any where around the bars/stem/forks except in the headset bearings.

    Check the various manuals out, an assembly lube, or paste, especially on Carbon Fiber parts, is necessary, and a light application of lube or anti-sieze can keep things tight and help to avoid slippage. If you have a carbon fiber steerer tube it should get some CF paste applied to it where it meets the stem, whether the stem is aluminum or CF. When you have CF to CF connection the paste gives a seal to grip that most CF cannot achieve.

    xdoc refers to "grease/lube". I agree with him.
    "... an application of lube"......"can keep things tight and help avoid slippage"! :roll:
  • ai_1ai_1 Posts: 3,060
    lesfirth wrote:
    Old_Timer wrote:
    xdoc wrote:
    There should be no grease/lube any where around the bars/stem/forks except in the headset bearings.

    Check the various manuals out, an assembly lube, or paste, especially on Carbon Fiber parts, is necessary, and a light application of lube or anti-sieze can keep things tight and help to avoid slippage. If you have a carbon fiber steerer tube it should get some CF paste applied to it where it meets the stem, whether the stem is aluminum or CF. When you have CF to CF connection the paste gives a seal to grip that most CF cannot achieve.

    xdoc refers to "grease/lube". I agree with him.
    "... an application of lube"......"can keep things tight and help avoid slippage"! :roll:
    +1
    I've seen several of these comments suggesting assembly with "lube" where I presume either assembly paste or anti-seize is meant. Carbon assembly paste is abrasive particles intended to provide exactly the opposite function to a lube. I hope this is simply a terminology problem and not a belief that lubricants and assembly pastes are interchangeable! However evem if it os a terminology problem there is a serious risk of people going out and lubricating their stem clamp, seatpost clamp, etc and that doesn't strike me as wise!
  • junglist_mattyjunglist_matty Posts: 1,680
    xdoc wrote:
    There should be no grease/lube any where around the bars/stem/forks except in the headset bearings.

    a small quantity of lube will stop creaks, assembly lube has been developed for this purpose. If like me, you can also use a light film of wet chain lube to do the same job...

    http://sheldonbrown.com/creaks.html#bars
  • Old_TimerOld_Timer Posts: 262
    Its a terminology problem, I should be clearer in my choice of words. My apologies for that, I do feel that the proper application of an assembly material, lubricant or CF paste should be used, as is proper for the specific application. If you feel otherwise, so be it, that is none of my business. Cheers to all! 8)
    Lets just got for a ride, the heck with all this stuff...
  • Ber NardBer Nard Posts: 827
    Are you sure it isn't coming from the levers? Try to replicate the problem riding in the drops and see if it goes away.

    I had an annoying creak under accelaration that turned out to be the spokes. A drop of lube on each end of them sorted it.

    Rob
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 15,959
    Schoie81 wrote:
    Varying off the topic slightly, I now know a little more about headset bearings than I did 24hours ago, and so can Identify my headset bearings as open/cage type bearings. I've read that these are 'budget' bearings with cartridge bearings being a better option - not really a surprise as I have an entry level bike. Anyway, can I replace them with cartridge bearings or does the headset dictate the type of bearings and changing the bearing type would mean a new headset too??

    There's nothing much wrong with caged bearings. As long as you regrease them periodically they are fine. In twenty years time, when they have worn out and the bearing surfaces have dimples in them, you might want to get yourself a new headset. But don't put yourself out to get a cartridge one.
    Faster than a tent.......
  • Schoie81Schoie81 Posts: 749
    Ber Nard - pretty sure its not the levers - took the bars off the end of the stem and pulled up and down on the stem and the creak was still there so doesn't seem to be connected to the levers. Cleaning and re-greasing the headset bearings seems to have sorted that problem, but it is now clear that I in fact had two creaks, the other is coming from the pedal department so going to look at re-greasing things down there too - going to need some new tools to do that though.....

    Rolf - thanks for that. I wouldn't bother switching the headset just to change the type of bearings unless something was wrong and it was necessary - just thought if its just a case of chucking the caged bearing and buying some cartridge ones I'd do it, but happy leaving things as they are until the headset is worn.
    "I look pretty young, but I'm just back-dated"
  • Old_TimerOld_Timer Posts: 262
    Good to read that you got the stem and headset question sorted and solved, the pedals aren't difficult to service, also. What brand pedals are they, if you don't mind my asking? Some manufacturers have rebuild kits for their pedals, if you need a bearing replacement, or such, when you get them opened up.

    Total agreement on the caged bearings, with proper care they are a good set up. I recently read an article on high end wheelsets and Shimano, and some other manufacturers, still uses the old style cup and cone with loose steel bearings in their products.

    In some cases for our dirt bikes (motorcycles in MX) we took the caged bearings out and used the correct size and number of loose bearings. It gave us an additional ball in the count and seemed smoother in the bearings. Not sure if we can do this in bicycles as the sizes aren't as familiar to me.

    I used loose and caged bearings for many years for my bicycles and the cartridges can be frustrating at times.
    Lets just got for a ride, the heck with all this stuff...
  • BozmanBozman Posts: 2,570
    Try the steerer bung. I've just had a creak from the BB area when the crank was under pressure, it ended up being the bl00dy steerer bung.
  • Schoie81Schoie81 Posts: 749
    Bozman - haven't got a steerer bung so think I can rule that one out!!

    Old Timer - creak isn't coming from the pedals - i've swapped them off and the noise is still there so can't be them. Don't mind you asking - I ride Crank Brothers Eggbeater pedals and I have already stripped them down, cleaned and re-greased them once - they're about ready to be done again, so I will do whilst creak-hunting but I'm fairly certain they aren't the cause. Only really leaves the cranks/BB and I need a crank puller and BB removal tool to take a look at those. Someone did suggest checking that the bolts that hold the small chainring on are tight, which I will check, but the noise is the same regardless of which chainring I'm using and I guess if this was the cause, the noise would be worse when using the inner ring?
    "I look pretty young, but I'm just back-dated"
  • Old_TimerOld_Timer Posts: 262
    Arrgh, chasing down creaks and groans is frustrating, as you well know. I cannot say with any certainty that being on the inner ring of the chain set would be more pronounced, fortunately I've not had that issue, my creaks and groans, so far were from the seat pillar once and the bottom bracket, for my current bicycle. Personally, I'd like to see the various BBXXX systems go by the way side and use the English/Italian standards with threaded bottom brackets. I know that will not happen :wink: , my old grumpism coming out :roll:

    Best of luck with the chase, and thanks for answering about your pedals, those are good, solid, well engineered units there. You seem to know what you are doing, much better than I do, :? . Cheers.
    Lets just got for a ride, the heck with all this stuff...
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